“Yes the system is bad, but it’s not how I do things.”
“I’ve rejected the system and am doing my own thing.”
Two examples of how we try to exceptionalism ourselves from cultural systems and why they’re a bit problematic.
Plus an example of how I regularly exceptionalise myself!
How do you exceptionalise yourself? What do you learn when you dig into the moment more? Share in the comments so we can learn together.
thank you Liz, I especially love how you coveted the personal to the entire planet and whatever system you are in. is there any such thing as me as a lone operator? hmmm. Maybe not!!! very freeing. thank you so much.
Ooh, juicy, yes. And whether there is such a thing a lone operator or not – what is the impact of thinking like that, vs the impact of thinking not? Individually and collectively.
Love the video!! The dynamics in system rejection were particularly interesting because of how many people I have met who do this in some form. I feel I have gained more perspective on what was going on for them. I reflected that it’s interesting how I have praised this kind of thing in the past. Now with this perspective, I think I would be inclined to ask them where they saw potential to participate in and change the culture they were rejecting. A small way this exceptionalism shows up for me is in how I participate in and relate to the world of fashion and trends. I can think ‘I don’t follow trends because that approach to dressing myself doesn’t suit me’, and this can be true. It involves a rejection of the industry’s sustainability values and intersection with capitalism, as well as my practical views on what dressing myself looks like. But in that statement there is no effort to change that system or approach. If I really cared so much about that system’s faults could I not try to gain a form of power in it and influence change in it? Does this work as an example/am I understanding you correctly?
Thanks Themeda, yes, great example. And thanks for sharing your comment on Youtube! I love lovely clothes and am reading a bit about cultural adornment practices and functions. It’s so easy to bag out fashion and adornment because of how commercialised it is, the patriarchal implications, narcissistic vanity etc, but I suspect it’s a very important cultural practice, and not just for demonstrating rank/wealth. But there I go, potentially exceptionalising myself in a different way “if I have a sophisticated academic position that justifies lovely clothes, then I’m different and I’m not part of the problem”…can’t get away from it 🙂
I absolutely do this! In a conversation about the perils of social media, I exceptionalised myself in how I use it and am aware of the risks but have found a way to use it that is more connective than disconnecting, blah blah blah. With your insight, I can now see that I centred myself and altered the level of conversation and will endeavour to be more aware of it in future so I can participate in the conversation in a way that allows for the critique without feeling the need to exceptionalise myself. I’ll also look at it with a power lens and consider my own relationship to the system and note that if I’m disempowered, how else I might respond. Thank you for this!
Awesome, yes, I think this is pretty common in the context of social media. I frequently mention how little I use it, then spend waaaaay too long scrolling through images of yarn on Instagram, thinking that it’s not really engaging with social media if I never post anything. I do love the ways we sneak around ourselves.
Okay I’ve been chewing on the imaginaries question (from your email about this post) for days, trying to translate it into PW terms. So, watch me exceptionalise myself (I’m not like other academics) and have a hubristic go at re-defining imaginaries…
I think of imaginaries (maybe!) as like the Venn diagram between Consensus Reality and Dreamland levels. So, an imaginary is a social/psychological shared space, usually organised around a community identity, that we more or less agree upon as existing and sharing a certain reality. BUT unlike ‘CR proper’ an imaginary is understood primarily through a (less conscious) felt sense, roles, archetypes, rather than ‘objective reality’. Imaginaries are not as concrete and agreed-upon as ‘CR proper,’ but not as subjective and un-agreed-upon as ‘Dreamland proper.’ So, there is a shared (often unspoken) understanding of symbols, experiences, behaviours, etc, as representing something subjective/deeper/emotional. I’m thinking here of queer imaginaries (e.g. the act of coming out takes up a huge place in the queer imaginary, and is understood as a symbol for something bigger, that carries its own emotional implications).
Unlike ‘CR proper,’ imaginaries help us relate to each other through Dreamland-level experiences first, so they’re helpful to us because they give us a way into community and individual identity that allows for feelings, subjective experience, and collective dreaming, while still being (mostly) intelligible on a community level. And can also be damaging when an imaginary is built on shared feelings, rules, roles, etc, that are oppressive (hello capitalism imaginary) and we are driving from Dreamland level roles and experiences without having more concrete awareness… So, there’s a start! But I will have to keep chewing on this…
I thought (and hoped) you might have a crack!! Thanks Laura. So is it more or less shared-ish subjective-ish experience?
And I just looked up “hubristic” – snortle!!
I like academics BTW – just wish academia was a nicer place to be.
Yeah, I think shared-ish, subjective-ish, but also self-organising (though always in flux), with its own (shared, subjective) roles, expectations, polarities, etc. I guess… I dunno, I’m going to keep thinking about it!